Eyes Wide Open — What you Need to Know about Starting your Own Firm

By Jennifer M. Ramovs, Esq., Director of Practice Management, Affinity Consulting Group

There you sit. It’s 7:30 p.m. You haven’t eaten, and by now you have missed your son’s hockey game. You are still not done with the brief that has to be filed tomorrow. You work about 12 hours a day (including Saturday) because you have a 2100 hour per year billable requirement. The firm bills your time at $250 per hour, but you certainly don’t get paid $250 per hour that you work. You wonder why you don’t just go out on your own. Keep that $250 for yourself. You could do this on your own.

Congratulations! You graduated from law school, and you have passed the Bar Exam.  Big things are in store for you. You have always wanted to be your own boss, run your own firm. You would do things differently than the firms you worked for during law school. You have a plan. You have a computer and an internet connection, and you know how to use Word – you are ready.

Not so fast.

Regardless of what motivates you, starting your own firm is not for the weak at heart. Time and Financial constraints can take a toll. Before you grab the hammer and hang out your shingle, make sure you are considering every aspect of starting your own firm.

Do you have a budget? Are you getting a small business loan? Do you have a business plan? What phones will you use? Will you have support staff? How will you do payroll? Will you bill enough to pay your law school loans? Where will you bank? Scanners? Printers? Do you still need a fax machine? Where will you save documents? How will you name documents? What will you use for backup? Where will your office be? Will you meet clients in your office? How will you bill your clients? Hourly? Flat Rate? Contingency? What will your bills look like? How will you manage Trust accounts? Who will your malpractice carrier be? Will you use Exchange? Office 365? Should you encrypt email? How will you protect your client’s data?  Will you buy a server? Do you need a website? What will your firm logo look like? You learned about the law in law school. Nobody told you how to run a successful business. Is your mind racing yet?

Starting and maintaining a firm can be a rewarding experience. However, you must embark on the journey in an organized fashion, and you might need help along the way. Check out your MGMT HQ and browse the content. Take advantage of the checklists, whitepapers, articles and videos to help prepare you for adventure of building a firm.


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